Dichotomous Thinking is simply a way that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions — telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us in a ‘childish’ mindset unconscious and unaware of all our possibilities.
Dichotomous Thinking Defined:
Dichotomous Thinking also known as all-or-none thinking or black and white thinking is a type of thinking or cognition in which a person classifies something into two absolute categories rather than a range or spectrum between two categories ("shades of gray").
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
Dichotomous Thinking is a possible symptom of Borderline, Narcissistic and Avoidant Personality Disorders.
If you believe you or someone you love match this criteria, take a deep breath & don’t panic. Many people find themselves matching about 70% of criteria for different disorders in DSM IV, yet they don’t have any ‘personality disorders’. And even then only about 1/3 of individuals that are diagnosed with a personality disorder by qualified professionals are believed to actually have the disorder.
What is Dichotomous Thinking (and where in the mind)?
Going deeper…these are unconscious beliefs located in the subconscious…a form of arrested emotional development in childhood that has continued into adult years. Unconscious beliefs that are programmed responses in the fight-flight-freeze response.
Where does Dichotomous Thinking come from?
Dichotomous Thinking is being stuck in (or Anchored to) an emotional level of development from childhood experience also called “resource states”. Out of these ‘negative’ beliefs comes an underlying & unconscious commitment. I.E. I’m not good enough, I was a mistake, I’m dumb, etc.…
Anchoring to a ‘resource state’ and Dichotomous Thinking
To describe this classical conditioning behavior called anchoring in a human context. We must understand and take note that as we go through life we build a lot of anchors for various responses.
Examples: How many of us feel a certain way when we hear "Our song", or have a sense of dread when we hear a certain tone in a parent's voice?
Anchors are learned responses…and the amazing thing about an anchor is that it is usually learned in result of a single learning experience (psychotherapists call the resource state). It is normally the case that there is one defining incident that creates the anchor program in the subconscious. Then the learned response is repeated and conditioned.
Pavlov was a scientist in the 1800’s who discovered that behaviors could be triggered by signals. Pavlov tested ringing a bell while simultaneously presenting dogs with food. Before long, the dogs ‘learned’ to salivate to the sound of the bell, without the food. The bell became a ‘trigger’ for the response of salivation. Splitting is conditioned in much the same way.
Arrested Emotional Development and Dichotomous Thinking
Central to personality disorder problems, is “arrested emotional development”, which is triggered by parental neglect and/or abuse in infancy and childhood (birth-18 years old).
NOTE: Adult development can be accomplished, but it takes time and treatment to mend the core trauma wounds that are inherently at the root of this dysfunction of emotional development.
Normal Adult Thinking verses Dichotomous Thinking
Critical adult thinking involves…logical reality based thinking and reasoning…(including skills such as comparison, classification, sequencing, cause/effect, patterning, webbing, analogies, deductive & inductive reasoning, forecasting, planning, hypothesizing, & critiquing).
This brings us to “The Eight Psychosocial Stages of Human Development”
Dr. Erik Erikson, the famous psychologist (1902-1994) who proposed these Stages found that...
…Unresolved Childhood Developmental Tasks “leave a life-long residue of emotional immaturity.”
In other words…
You’re original, immature, unidentified Subconscious Issues Are controlling your behaviors—and even your thinking...
So now that you know what Dichotomous Thinking is, how do you go about undoing (or resolving) this subconscious program?
Read how by clicking here: